Megan Walch: uncanny

10 June - 2 July 2022

There are, and have always been, things going on that we don’t know about.

William Kentridge says, “The one thing that Covid-19 has shown us is that claims to authoritative certainty about how the world operates are very thinly based.  The question of uncertainty, ambiguity, and doubt is the bedrock of what happens in the studio whether you’re a writer, a singer, or visual artist.”[1]

 

When painting wet-on-wet there is a window of time in which to work with the fluid medium.  In this moment you either capture or kill the image: you can infuse it with light and luminosity or make a dull muddy mess.  This painting process allows for the unknown or indeterminate to enter the work and here it invades literally as flying saucers.

 

Painting flying saucers arose from my need to escape reality and have fun in the studio.  As I searched the galaxy of Google images of UFOs mocked-up from saucepan lids and jelly moulds, cannibalised from old appliances and doctored in Photoshop, I was sucked into a vortex, a black hole of rumour, myth and conspiracy.  I felt naughty, subversive; it left me vulnerable to ridicule.

 

Carl Jung proposes that, regardless of whether or not they exist, UFOs are the psychological products of humanity in crisis - projections of grief and psychic distress onto objects in “situations of collective angst, danger and vital need,” suggesting that during dark times they operate as symbols laden with Salvationist fantasies.  He claims their round bodies are subconscious totems representing aspirations to unity or wholeness. [2]

In the past I’ve painted ellipses [3] to connote eccentricity in a pictorial world; discs that spin and glint have recurred in my paintings for ‘aeons’; these lozenges have been central characters within a whimsical visual language.  On another level these works are simply about how to represent mass, volume and weight in paint and in two dimensions.  Kinetically UFOs are erratic, they appear and disappear in an instant just as water droplets condense into liquid from a gaseous state.[4]  Are they coming or going?  Are they menacing or benign?  For the first time many the forms in these paintings slow down to hang and hover in space, this is a surprise as vectors of energy have always been more interesting to me than objects.

 

It feels like a nostalgic form of futurism to depict 1950’s WearEver saucepan lids dipping and diving over misty mountain ranges and deserted highways - a familiar whimsical unknown, as distinct from current forms of manipulation and fear mongering: the disclosure of secrets that have long been concealed and trafficked in stealth: scandals, corruption, declassified UPAs and asteroids on collision courses - secrets leaked and brought to light after being sealed in darkness.

 

Painting is a vehicle for light - a ‘niche for lights”[5]   and Art is a platform for ‘other’ kinds of knowing and being – it is a field in which the uncertain future may land. Uncannily, at the time I began this body of work and ‘alien’ was invading mine, reminding me that we too are visitors here for a relatively short time.

 

Meg 2022

 



[2] Jung, C. G. Flying Saucers, New York: MJF Books, 1996. P 22

[3] An ellipse is a circle or orbit whose axis is not placed centrally. Eccentricity is the quality of being abnormally centred; of not being concentric; of not having the axis in the centre.  The quality or habit of deviating from what is usual or regular; irregularity, oddity, whimsicality.

Oxford English Dictionary, "Eccentricity, N." , accessed 11th April, 2022, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/59249?redirectedFrom=eccentricity.

[4] Jung, C. G. Flying Saucers, New York: MJF Books, 1996. P 29.

[5] Walch’s first 1994 exhibition, Bett Gallery, “ A Niche for Lights” from translated Sufi texts reflecting on sources of light and levels of illumination.

 
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Dr Megan J. Walch is a Tasmanian artist whose painting blends figuration and abstraction; synthesising select pictorial traditions from Western Europe and South East Asia.
 

Megan exploits the plastic conditions of painting and drawing media to cross cultural and aesthetic boundaries of form. She is a graduate of the University of Tasmania’s School of Art and has a Masters from the San Francisco Art Institute, USA. She is a Samstag Scholar and an alumnus of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Space Program, USA. Her practice has developed through spending extended periods of time living and working overseas.

 

Megan has undertaken residencies in Tapei and Thailand. Her work has been exhibited in the United States and Australia, including Wilderness, curated by Wayne Tunnicliffe at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2010, Kindle and Swag - The Samstag Effect, curated by Ross Wolfe, University of South Australia Art Museum, 2004, Artists to Artists, Ace Gallery, New York, 2002, and Primavera 2000, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

 

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